Respiratory disorders in endurance athletes – how much do they really have to endure?
Maurizio Bussotti, Silvia Di Marco, Giovanni Marchese
Cardiac Rehabilitation Unit, Fondazione Salvatore Maugeri, Milan, Italy
Abstract: Respiratory disorders are often a cause of morbidity in top level endurance athletes, more often compromising their performance and rarely being a cause of death. Pathophysiological events occurring during exercise, such as bronchospasm, are sometimes followed by clear pathological symptoms represented by asthma related to physical exertion or rarely by pulmonary edema induced by a strenuous effort. Both bronchospasm and the onset of interstitial edema induced by exercise cannot be considered pathological per se, but are more likely findings that occur in several healthy subjects once physical exhaustion during exertion has been reached. Consequently, we get a vision of the respiratory system perfectly tailored to meet the body's metabolic demands under normal conditions but which is limited when challenged by strenuous exercise, in particular when it happens in an unfavorable environment. As extreme physical effort may elicit a pathological response in healthy subjects, due to the exceeding demand in a perfectly functional system, an overview of the main tools both enabling the diagnosis of respiratory impairment in endurance athletes in a clinical and preclinical phase has also been described.
Keywords: exercise, athlete, ventilation, bronchoconstriction
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